Abstract: Two decades of structure building

GERNSBACHER, M. A. (1997). Two decades of structure building. Discourse Processes, 23, 265-304.
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During the past decade I have been developing a very simple framework for describing the cognitive processes and mechanisms involved in discourse comprehension. I call this framework the Structure Building Framework, and it is based on evidence provided during the first decade of discourse processing research. According to the Structure Building Framework, the goal of comprehension is to build coherent mental representations or structures. Comprehenders build each structure by first laying a foundation. Comprehenders develop mental structures by mapping on new information when that information coheres or relates to previous information. However, when the in-coming information is less related, comprehenders shift and attach a new substructure. The building blocks of mental structures are memory nodes, which are activated by incoming stimuli and controlled by two cognitive mechanisms: suppression and enhancement. In this paper, first I review the seminal work on which the Structure Building Framework is based (the first decade of structure building research); then I review the research I have conducted to test the Structure Building Framework (the second decade of structure building research).